Nel's New Day

September 23, 2014

Voter Discrimination on Voter Registration Day

Today, National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), is a time to encourage people to sign up for their civic rights to more the United States forward. Voting is a constitutional right for all people over 18 although some states prevent people convicted of crimes from voting. The practice of voting may be the most critical thing that people can do. The direction of the country will be decided in 42 days when millions of people decide who will make their laws. It should be noted that Republicans are changing NVRD devoted to registering voters with its project called Vote GOP.

Because voting can be so powerful, conservatives are trying to stop people from voting. A half century ago, hundreds of activists died when they tried to help blacks in the South gain their constitution rights. One way that whites kept blacks from voting throughout much of the 20th century was to make them pass tests in order to register to vote. Elisabeth Hasselbeck wants the tests back. On Fox & Friends, she proposed that all people would have to pass the same citizenship test for high school graduation that’s part of a Utah bill. In 2012, 60 percent of voters from ages 18 to 29 voted for President Obama, and only 36 percent voted for Mitt Romney.

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) compared the danger of absentee voting to a “loaded gun” and bragged that how early voting has been cut in his state. He hopes to see early voting completely destroyed. He also said that “it’s a privilege to vote,” not having read his constitution that makes voting a “right.” In the future, Yoho hopes that only property owners will be able to vote. The average of a first-time home owner is 30-32, and young voters are a threat to the GOP.

Paul Weyrich, the co-founder of the huge corporation-controlled far-right political organization ALEC, described the current GOP position back in 1980:

“I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact [GOP] leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

Conservative pundit George Will agrees with Weyrich.  After President Obama was re-elected two years ago, Will became very distressed that the president wants voter registration and voting to be easier. Will likes the fact that 60 million people eligible to vote in the United States were not registered at that time and believes that it would be oppressive to have them register. Then he cites the high turnout of voters in Nazi Germany to prove that a large number of voters for an election is a bad thing.

State Sen. Fran Millar, a GOP in Georgia, is highly incensed that early voting will be available at a mall in a predominantly black county. He said he wants “more educated voters than a greater increase in the number of voters.” Clarifying his criticism, he said that his comments weren’t related to race but instead to “an effort to maximize Democratic votes pure and simple.”

Less than two months before Election Day 2014, a panel of GOP-nominated judges on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated Wisconsin’s voter ID law challenged in court for several years. Scott Walker, the state’s governor, won by only 124,638 votes in 2010, and the investigation into his campaign fraud makes this an even closer race this year. With 300,000 eligible voters lacking the photo ID, the ACLU predicts “the state would have to process and issue 6,000 photo IDs every day between now and November 4” to provide IDs. Absentee voters are also disenfranchised because voters without an ID check have already submitted many ballots that might be thrown away. The state had only 2.1 million voters in 2010.

Not satisfied with the federal ruling, GOP legislative leaders have filed a lawsuit because Democrats are listed before Republicans on the newly designed ballot by a nonpartisan elections agency. That process follows state law: parties are listed according to the presidential or gubernatorial winner of the last general election. President Obama won. He’s a Democrat. Democrats are listed first. In 2012, Republicans were listed first on the ballot because GOP Scott Walker had more votes for governor. The lawsuit also says that putting Democrats first could violate the rights of millions of Wisconsin voters. The GOP has no concerns about voter ID laws which can disenfranchise a large number of voters because they think those who are disenfranchised would probably not vote Republican.

Kansas and Georgia also show the impact of GOP efforts to cut off access to voting. Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, said he had received complaints about voter applications from the New Georgia Project, an attempt to increase black voter turnout. The group reported that the GOP official had held up more than 50,000 voter registration forms for months.

Kris Kobach, the Kansas GOP Secretary of State, is behaving in an even more bizarre fashion. The Democratic candidate for Senate, Chad Taylor, decided to withdraw from the election because it would give the independent candidate a better chance of being elected over GOP incumbent, Pat Roberts. Kobach refused to remove his name until the Kansas Supreme Court ordered him to do so. Then Kobach ordered the Democratic party to select another candidate and would “review the legal options if Democrats fail to comply.” He cannot legally force the Democrats to have a candidate.

Kobach said first that he would delay sending overseas ballots but then mailed 526 ballots to overseas voters with the disclaimer that new ballots will be printed if the court forces the Democratic party to name a replacement candidate. According to Kobach’s statement to voters, their votes may not count in the election, depending on how successful he is in helping the GOP candidate. (Kobach is a member of Roberts’ re-election campaign):

“You may vote using the ballot accompanying this letter as soon as you receive it, or you may wait to vote until you’ve received further notification from us. If a replacement ballot is sent to you, and you have already returned the ballot that accompanies this letter, only your replacement ballot will be counted.”

Kobach has also said that he might try to delay elections in Kansas by over a week, making November 12 the day in that state to vote for local, state, and federal offices on November 12.

GOP states, especially those with large black populations, are more likely to pass voter ID and other limits against access to voting. North Carolina combined voter ID with closing precincts near colleges and universities.

Whether a person can vote depends on where that person lives. In all, 15 states have stricter voting rules in a major election for the first time. Laws in six of these states are being challenged in court. Since 2010, 22 states, almost all of them in the South and the Midwest, have rolled out new restrictions. Of the 11 states with the highest black turnout rate in 2008, seven have new restrictions in place, and of the dozen states with the largest growth in Hispanic population from 2000 to 2010, nine passed laws making it harder to vote. Judges in Arkansas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have overturned photo ID laws because of no proof from fraud. Other decisions have upheld stricter voting laws.

Photo ID laws have been approved in Tennessee, Kansas, and Arizona. Republican lawmakers in Kansas, Georgia, Alabama, and Arizona have passed “proof of citizenship” laws. These are valid only for elections of state officials; voters at the polls can vote only for federal offices without their birth certificates—if they have photo ID. The Texas law goes to trial this month and North Carolina, next year.

A summary of voting restrictions in different states is available here.

voting restrictions

A 93-year-old man who has voted in every election since 2000 was turned away at the polls in Alabama this year. He’s one of nearly 11% of the U.S. population that lacks the mandated identification. They don’t have the advantage that Republicans like Asa Hutchinson do. When the candidate for Arkansas and fan of the new voter ID law, forgot his ID at the polls, he sent a staffer to get it. He found it only a “minor inconvenience.”

A major question is whether the GOP will lose its own constituency through restrictive ID laws. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, chair of the Republican Governors Association, railed against an effort to boost voter turnout in Illinois as an underhanded Democratic tactic, despite state Board of Elections being composed equally of Democrats and Republicans. Yet same-day registration increased Republican turnout in Idaho, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Republicans rely on older people, the ones who are most likely to not have identification such as drivers’ licenses. Former speaker of the Texas House, Jim Wright, is now 90, and he was prevented from voting because a lapsed ID. Married women are more likely to vote for Republicans than single women, yet their IDs are often questioned because they have changed their names. Happy VOTE GOP, Republicans.

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